A Dave Keon scoring record, no matter if the goaltender is absent, rarely gets matched.
But Zach Hyman — “the Sidney Crosby of 6-on-5” as Auston Matthews calls him — is set to pass one mark that the player voted best Maple Leaf in the first hundred years of the franchise had held since 1975.
When Hyman charged down the ice Saturday against Vancouver and buried his 12th career empty-netter, he tied Keon.
“That’s crazy, pretty cool,” said Hyman. “That’s a huge honour. Any time you get a chance to be mentioned in the same breath as Keon is pretty special.”
Hyman has played 298 Leafs games to Keon’s 1,062.
“They must have not pulled the goalie too much back then,” figured Hyman.
True, it’s done with far more frequency in the 21st century, much earlier in games and sometimes the goalie remains out after one empty-netter has been potted.
But that regular 20-goal scorer Hyman is always trusted to be out in the late stages to defend a lead puts him in position for such freebies. And rarely does Hyman fire wildly from long range to risk icings, staying in full checker mode and usually carrying the puck the whole distance to make sure it’s buried as he did Saturday.
“I don’t think about (the record) too much, I just take pride in it because that’s what seals the game 99.9% of the time,” Hyman said. “I’m happy that it results in a win.”
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